Finding the best free project management tools for startups, small businesses, or simply everyday tasks can be a challenge. There’s a lot of new tools out there for those looking to utilize a project management board, each with their pros and cons. Here’s a list of several, and why you might consider each. We’ll go in order from the leanest and low cost, to the most feature rich.
Best Free Project Management Tool for Just Starting Up
Scrumfast.com is the newest kid on the block. It is extremely bare bones, but you get what you pay for. At $4 a user it’s already a steal, but they often have $2 or $3 discounts. There’s only one price, and you get all the (limited) features. Like most tools nowadays, it also offers a free trial with no credit card required.
Because it’s so lean, Scrumfast is also gorgeous, and the user interface lets you do your work extremely quickly. Its most comparable product is a modern version of the start up favorite Scrumwise, but even Scrumwise has become victim to feature bloat. But with Scrumfast, there’s not a bunch of hidden menus, random iconography, or fluff. And without much fluff, it’s extremely easy to understand; no training needed. You sign in, set your scrum name and dates, and start right off creating your tasks. Various backdrop options add to the visual pleasure.
Alternatively, its leanness might leave you wanting for features. You can do a lot with the basics of tagging, epics, multi-task updates, estimating/sizing, but it’s truly not for anything advanced. And it’s just scrum. You won’t see other options for documenting, gantt charts, etc. Just sprint planning, active sprints, basic analytics and retrospectives, but each done beautifully and intuitively.
Integrations are also currently limited to Google SSO and Github, but it still may be a fine scrum tool for startups. API integration is also available by request.
Best Free Project Management Tool for Revving Up
ClickUp.com has made a big splash with lots of great advertising, including in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Its visuals are eye pleasing, and while it gets great search rankings for “Scrum,” it has so, so much more. Documents, wikis, to do lists, time and goal tracking just to name a few. And great availability on all device types; it even an offline mode!
But having all these features comes at a cost of clarity and price. While the marketing pages are gorgeous and clean, the user interface – even a brand new version they call “simpler” – is overwhelming from the get go. It’s not clear where to go, and the very first page is littered with a large list of to-dos.
And it’s pithy, but we hate the marketing tactics, including the guilt trips like “No, I want to waste 1 day per week” on the register cancellation buttons. That screams “we’re in series B and we no longer give a hoot about being annoying.”
The base pricing – $0 – is of course excellent. It’s hard to complain about free, but it then leaves out some really basic items that will soon drag you out of that, including a 100MB max storage.
Their next tier is currently at $5 a user a month, but still oddly leaves out things that would seem fairly basic. You need to shell out $10 a month to get Google SSO integration, and to set default views? And then, any automations cost extra, over the plan.
Best Free Project Management Tool for a Mature System
ClickUp seems to be trying to be the next Monday. Monday is a mature system with their bells and whistles worked out. Their user interface is again cluttered, but also visually pleasing. They also start out by asking several questions to get the right configurations for you.
At the same time, it’s that overwhelming configurability that makes Monday… overwhelming. Even after going through a series of customization questions, Monday still asks you to choose a feature template. But what you end up with may or may not be what you were looking for in the first place. And the options that do show up are at first very opinionated in what’s being shown; laden with visuals that aren’t very typical of scrum or agile methodologies. Of course, these are all customizable, so with a fair amount of training an exploration, you should be able to find what you came for.
Monday has a free limited trial, but their standard rate is $8 a user, with pricing tiers that are more typical of most tools out there. For $10, you get added features such as Gannt charts and calendars. $16 will get you time tracking and additional dashboard features, which means it’s a great scrum tool for a startup that’s growing up.
|Free limited by||Users||Features||Time|
|Price / user / month|
(Basic Paid Tier)
|$2 – $4||$5||$8|
If you’re “sub-Jira,” and looking for project management software fo startups and small businesses, there are plenty of good options on the market. We’ve shown some of the most recent ones here, but do your web search research and make sure to try before you buy. For bare-bones and on a budget, give Scrumfast.com a try. Otherwise, ClickUp, Monday, and even Scrumwise are great alternatives that shouldn’t break the bank.